While it may seem like smart home technology is reaching a peak, we’ve really only seen the beginning of the devices and products that will ultimately rule our houses in the future.
I didn’t even have a cell phone until I was 18 years old, and nowadays kids start using smartphones and tablets before they even really have control over the English language. The next generation is going to have the same sentiments about artificial intelligence and smart homes.
I imagine that they will say something along the lines of: We didn’t even have a home robot until I was in high school, and even then, we only had one. Nowadays kids are getting their own personal robot before they are even walking.
Seriously, this is the future.
Digital home assistants like the Google Home and the Amazon Echo are very popular with families (even after that misstep where an Amazon Echo returned pornographic results when it misheard a child’s request).
This is pretty unsurprising, seeing as the smart home devices are built to entertain as much as they are built to bring us convenience. Smart home assistants are an even better “babysitter” than the television since it is interactive and educational. (Do I even need to state as a disclaimer that I am not actually condoning using the Google Home or the Amazon Echo as a babysitter? Just in case, you officially read it here.)
So, can anything stop these powerhouse tech products from advancing? Yes, there is one thing that can: privacy.
Or, better said, a lack of privacy specifically related to data. Families are concerned about protecting their overall data, and the data of their children. They are also concerned about the information that these speakers transmit to their children (reference my flashback above about the pornographic material).
Parents want to know that the content that is available to their children is appropriate, and they want to know that the private data stored about their family is not going to be accessible by predatory third parties, like hackers or even advertisers.
Digital smart home speakers might be advancing quickly with their technological functionality, but the industry itself, and the regulations that govern it are still new. That means that parental controls are still being developed and that there aren’t clear guidelines that every company has to follow.
There are recommendations, of course, from the Federal Trade Commission, and luckily, Google and Amazon (and Apple, who is slated to release their smart home speaker by the end of 2017) – the biggest players in the space – are reputable companies that do their best to adhere to best practices where available, and set the standard when it is lacking.
Since these devices integrate with third-party apps, that means that they need to hold their partners to strict data and privacy security as well. Consumers are ready for simplification, and the technology that can grant them that, but they are not willing to sacrifice their private data, and the private data of their families, to achieve that simplification.